Monday, April 11, 2011

KALAWEIT, Indonesia, 27th December 2009

I woke up at 5am on the dot...That's a perfect 8 hours sleep...again. Lovely.

The gibbon shrill was barely getting started, so I hopped out of bed to go outside and listen.

It really is the most amazing, relaxing and magical sound. The time doesn't matter; waking up with nature does. Listening to the sounds around me, feeling unbelievably relaxed; it's the ultimate, and more, much more than I could have ever imagined.

6am - I fed Tongki again today. He totally adores the lempek (lychee-like fruit); he ate 3 or 4 today. He is just adorable, even if he is hitting his plate for more!

I witnessed the washing of the towels for the first time. This needs to be done everyday. The water is pumped from the ground. It's a rather laborious process, but worth it for the gibbons. Adam suggested getting a basic spin machine to do the washing, but with the move up north, it may not be possible now.

To note - I am possible the last volunteer here at Hampapak. This plot will become an eco-tourist village and the new land up north will become a sanctuary.

Anyway, the hand washing adds to the beautiful simplicity of life out here, so why change it?!

I then went off with the staff to help wit the feeding of the gibbons in Camp 1. I was going to meet Rahud too!!

I got a basket (just to point out, I LOVE these basket/bags. They are a woven product of the region, and very colourful and stylish!)

The bag was filled full of papaya and green leaves. My fellow feeder had the bananas, and we were set!

The gibbons have feeding trays outside their cages and all we needed to do was simply place the food on them. However, some of the gibbons are nakal (aggressive). This means that they could snatch anything from you or grab anything from you as you walk past. They might also just run to the front of the cage, just to scare you and get a reaction (works with me!).

I had a few bums shown to me as well!!! It's a sign that the boys don't like you, or that the girls want sex!!!!

In total, there are 183 gibbons in quarantine, plus 3 in the clinic.

We are at Camp 1 now and there are 78 there, so we split up the feeding groups. Me and my partner one way, another dude in the opposite direction; it was a carefully planned routine.

Each gibbon is completely different. Their characteristics are unique, just like humans. a lot of the gibbons near the front are alone in smaller cages, but as we ventured further into the island and its jungle, the enclosures got bigger and some of the gibbons were lucky enough to be paired with a partner. A couple of cages even had babies as well!!!

The jungle of the island (it is a controlled territory, remember, not the hardcore mass of rainforest across the water) was wet. There were many big puddles everywhere. I could imagine, only slightly, the deluge just the week before.

Some cages were surrounded by water that was knee-deep for me. It must have been a nightmare for everyone to go through with feeding time.

With water in their cages, the gibbons are forced to stay at the top, which encourages them that higher places are better for them.

A disadvantage of this, would be a gibbon who was reared in captivity but now, in the wild, would not fully comprehend the parental duty they have. As a young gibbon, they would have seen their own parents killed and as a result, would not have learnt about the maternal or paternal love that they would later have to share. As a result, such a gibbon may escape to the heights of the trees where he/she belongs, but they may also let their baby drop to the ground simply unaware.

It's constantly a tough situation, but overall, this land is good for them and their rehabilitation process. They can be monitored carefully by all members of staff.

We met Rahud.He seemd docile and not nakal at all. Yay! It was quite the trek to get to him,
very tiring, but unbelievable and awe-inspiring fun. I'm learning more and more, slowly but surely, that there is so much more than meets the eye. Feeding the little cuties in the clinic is a small sideline to the whole story.

Back at camp - breakfast time. Deep fried aubergine-like veggie, which had the texture of chicken, a courgette-like veggie...fried and omlette and rice. I was ravenous!!! I could not get enough!!!

We all hung out for a bit, but before long, it was treat time at camps 1 & 2! Today, the protein treat was boiled egg, so, once again, we all set off to give each gibbon an egg.

The aggressive ones had to be handled carefully, perhaps by pretending to place the egg in one place with an empty hand, and actually having it in the other hand and sneakily placing on another tray.

One gibbon took his egg from my hand gently and Rahud looked like he would too, but I didn't want to anger him, so I just left it on his plate. He is docile and cute. We love him.

We headed over to camp 2, followed by the bears too. They were to get their rewards afterwards. First, the gibbons...and the crocodile!

There is one rescue croc, quite the size.

Adam threw in some headless chicken, raw..yum! One made it straight to his mouth, the other hit the tree, but I am sure he will get it later, we weren't going in to help him!
It was less flooded at camp 2, until the hut that was. We found Adam's plastic bag that had had the snake from my first night. This was were he had been released. Apparently, he was venomous!

En route back to base, I did manage to sink my leg inthe mud and lose my show like a veritable Cinderella...all part of the wilderness fun.

All that, and it was only 11am!! I feel like I have had my day already! (and UK are still sleeping, Japan are just waking up with Xmas hangovers...such different worlds!!)

I need a pre-lunch nap, but I just checked the time...1150! no rest for the wicked!!! Feeding time soon!

12pm - It's Manisa's turn.

He is just a baby, so, you have to put him in your lap. He likes to be mischievous, but with his little pink tongue hanging out, who can resist this little gibbon? We have to feed him with a syringe and break off the banana that he wants. Simple. He got up and into his cage when he chose, although he still wanted banana. If I held out my hand, he would simply pop his head out and reach for the fruit. Then he would go back to his swinging. He wasn't so agile yet, givenhis young age, but he still liked to show off, like Tongki.

Then, it was our feeding time - Rice, veggies (green leaf, pumpkin, and corn), that deep fried veggie from earlier, tuna? fried and crispy, but yum, as always.

And, that's it till 4pm!
Everybody suddenly disappears to their rooms for a nap. It's just Ayung and myself playing snap, with a few members of staff hanging out, chatting.

The rain has stopped; it was on and off all day long, but the rain here is so glorious. It enhances the already beautiful colours of nature. This place is truly gorgeous.

4pm- Once again it was me and Tongki. I am becoming, if not already, very attached to this little boy. The way he has apparently calmed down since I came makes me feel good and the way he looks into my eyes.....and holds my hands......

He was extra adorable today, really gentle and calm and lovable.
He really loved his bananas and even his milk, holding my hand each time and gesturing towards the milk when he was thirsty or grabbing the banana if he was hungry.

When he had eaten the two that I had taken from the counter, he looked lost, pointing at my hand, wanting more.

As he tried to swing to show off his agility, his eyes were shutting fast and heavy. He was so tired and his body would begin to flop. Then, suddenly, he would reach for more banana.

He reached toward me when I closed the door - four bananas weren't enough?
He just wanted to hold my hand. Too cute.

Even when I shut the door, his fingers came through the mesh to touch mine. We sat like that for a while but tears welled up in my eyes when I thought about where he had come from and what all of his gibbon friends experience before they come to Kalaweit. It's too sad, and I can predict that, I will be a nightmare when I leave here, but thankfully, that it still far away!

8pm. I am totally in love with Tongki! He seemed sleepy tonight, and I felt bad to disturb him, but he took two pisang (small banana) from my hand. I didn't push him to eat any more. I think he was as tired as me!

I wrote this diary entry from my bed, 8.30!!! A couple of treks through the Borneo bush will do that to you! Although, other than that, I have pretty much been sitting, reading and playing games!

I cannot WAIT for 5am and the sound of the gibbon song to wake me up!! It is great hanging with the gibbons!!

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